You might have noticed that the titles of most of my blogs are questions. This is because I’ve had nothing but questions since starting out. Is this the right thing to do? Can I make it work? Where do I start? When will I find the time? Will I get a full night’s sleep tonight? You get the picture.
Will it Fly?
Will it Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money is a book I used to get things off the ground. And I thought I’d share a bit about that. It’s by Pat Flynn, who you’ve probably noticed I’m a big fan of. Infact, one of my goals now is to be successful enough that I can be a guest on his podcast. Just putting that out there!
I used Will it Fly to validate my idea and figure out if I might actually be in with a shot of making it work (which is the whole concept of the book).
How it works
You start off with an exercise called the 4 quadrants of you, where you pick four areas of your life which are most important to you and think about what you want each to look like in five years time. You then do a ‘history test’ where you think back to jobs you’ve had in the past, what experience you have, what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.
The purpose of this is to figure out if your hopes for the future, plus your skills, experience, strengths, etc are aligned with what you want for your new business.
Mine did, apart from for every job I’ve listed people, friends at work and/or my team, as something I enjoyed. So, I think to make this work I need to be sure that in the short term at least (as perhaps longer term I will build up a team) I find ways to still be around people when I’m working. Maybe I work from a coffee shop or a shared space once a week, maybe I join a mentoring or networking group – just something so I don’t feel alone. The useful thing about these exercises is it gives you the opportunity to reassess before you get in too far and realise you’re unhappy or something isn’t working.
My ideal life in five years time was really about the four of us being happy, healthy and having plenty of time together to do the things we enjoy.
The rest of the book is mainly getting you to do research – figuring out the market you’re looking to get into, who’s out there already, who the influencers are, who’s your target market, what problems do they have that you could help with. I have to admit, I started off well, but I did skip some of the sections, as they just didn’t feel relevant. I don’t feel like I totally cheated though, as my business is all about physical products, where the book is more focused on ‘information businesses’ (so online courses, services, resource websites, etc), so some of it didn’t make much sense for me.
How it worked for me
I have to admit, I feel like I did cheat when I skipped two steps. One was to talk to people about my idea and the other was to email close friends and family and ask them to help identify my ‘super powers’ (i.e. the things that make me, me). Don’t get me wrong, I did speak to a few close friends and family, but in the main I felt uncomfortable, shy and perhaps even a bit silly and this put me off talking to as many as I should have done. I guess I thought (and still do at times) that people would think I was crazy to think I could even make a living doing this. Now though I’ve got a bit of a thicker skin (well, until I get any negative reviews anyway!) and I’m just being brave and putting myself out there. In fact, I recently emailed/Facebooked/somehow contacted many people to tell them my business story and asking if they’d like to subscribe to this blog. It’s by far the scariest thing I’ve done so far. Even scarier than sending thousands of dollars to China! (More on that next time.)
I still feel that what I did was worthwhile and time well spent – to organise my thoughts if nothing else. My favourite exercise was making a mind map of everything in my head to do with my business and then trying to condense that into an action list. There are still some things on there that are floating around (as I need to prioritise – and I’m starting to learn which things will add the most value, as opposed to being ‘nice to do’) but it’s good to know everything was captured. Getting everything out of my head felt very therapeutic!
If you’re looking to do a mindmap for any reason, I used a free website called MindMeister (there is a paid version, but the free one seemed to work just fine) and it was really intuitive and easier to move stuff around than on a sheet of paper.
There’s also a companion site alongside the book with more information on each topic and templates for the exercises. Not essential, but worth a look.
To summarise, if you have a business idea and want to really think it through, add some structure and tackle some of the first steps, I’d say it’s definitely worth a read.
And finally, I hope it’s not too late to redeem myself. If you’ve managed to read this far, comment below with:
- What you think of my business idea, and / or
- What you think my superpower is